Home / US / Facebook says it uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation prior to the 2018 midterm elections

Facebook says it uncovered a coordinated disinformation operation prior to the 2018 midterm elections

(Richard Drew / AP) Facebook said Tuesday it has discovered on its platform a sophisticated coordinated disinformation operation involving 32 false sites and profiles leading up to the US Midterm Business that it is not the activity Russia, which meddled on its platform for the 201
6 presidential election. But Facebook said the profiles shared a pattern of behavior with the earlier Russian disinformation campaign led by a group with connections to the Kremlin, the Internet Research Agency.

Facebook informed Congressional Advisers this week. A congressional advisor said that there was no evidence that political candidates were involved in the new disinformation efforts, but that sites and reports wanted to disseminate politically controversial content on social issues.

"It is clear that who set up these accounts to disguise their true identity, as the Russia-based Internet Research Agency (IRA) in the past," said Facebook in a post. "We believe that this could be partly due to changes we made last year to make this kind of abuse much more difficult, but security is not something that has ever been done, we face determined, financially strong opponents never give up and constantly change tactics, it's an arms race, and we also have to constantly improve. "

In the last few years Weeks were management executives, including the director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, said that active social media campaigns are taking place. The White House did not respond immediately to a request for comment.

The pages Facebook announced on Tuesday promoted an event planned as a counter-rally to a far-right march for the next weekend in Washington. Facebook said the urgency of the upcoming rally prompted them to publish the information even though they are at an early stage of an investigation.

The company that identified the sites two weeks ago and has since removed said in June that it had found no such activity.

The 32 pages found had between 16 and 18,000 followers. There was no specific evidence that targeted political candidates, but one account followed an IRA-associated account for a short time.

"Today's revelation is further evidence that the Kremlin continues to use platforms like Facebook to sow divisions and disseminate misinformation, and I am glad that Facebook has taken some steps to locate and address this activity "said Senator Mark R. Warner (D-Va.). "I also expect Facebook, along with other platform companies, to continue to identify Russian troll activities and work with Congress to update our laws to better protect our democracy in the future."

In the run-up to the 2016 elections Russian agents spread false and divisive messages on issues ranging from arms control to immigration, using hundreds of accounts. These messages became viral, reaching over 100 million Americans.

The revelations that broke out last fall led to congressional hearings and growing calls in Washington to regulate technology giants. A law proposed by Senator Warner, the so-called "Honest Ads Act", would subject technology companies that publish political advertising to the same disclosure requirements as television broadcasters.

"The write-up will become more and more complex as opponents in this next round will not make sloppy mistakes when they pay for ads in rubles and the playbook is well established, so we see domestic ideologues, economically motivated players and others who replicate it, "said Renee DiResta, disinformation and research director at New Knowledge, a non-profit interest group of technologists who focus on disinformation.

The company has hired thousands of new security staff, joined forces with research organizations, and improved its artificial intelligence tools to detect disinformation.

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